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Stephen Speicher

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Rate this book   24 votes

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12 posts in this topic

I loved all 5 books of the "trilogy"; read them as soon as they were released. I also liked his Dirk Gently "Holistic Detective Agency" books.

Adams is particularly apt at satirizing modern culture/philosophy & any form of religion. But, he never did figure out how to end a story. So, I rated 9.

Looking forward to the new movie.

You can visit his site here:

Douglas Adams site

& you can play the old DOS based version of the HHGG "interactive-text" game in a javascript format here:

Play the game online

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I ran across a copy of HHG while traveling last summer. I forgot just how funny that book was. Much better than the early-80s BBC miniseries.

I also liked his Dirk Gently "Holistic Detective Agency" books.

That's a book you rarely hear about, but it was one of the first books (albeit fiction) to get me interested in physics. (FYI, it contains some pseudo-science babble about quantum physics, so don't go in expecting much if the mention here intrigues you.)

you can play the old DOS based version of the HHGG "interactive-text" game in a javascript format here:

Play the game online

I remember that game! It was the only mass-market text adventure game I ever finished. I just couldn't stop playing that. (Though I did have help from a "cheat" book.)

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Is the recent movie an accurate recreation of the books? I absolutely hated the movie, if it's ever up for voting I'll give it at most a 3. Unfortunately, from what I hear, the movie IS accurate, and Douglas Adams himself wrote much of the movie script before he died. So, I will not give the books a rating because I haven't read them, but despite a few occasional chuckles, the story and the mindset of the Hitchhiker movie universe is so dis-integrated, so joyously incomprehensible, that I'm tempted to call it nihilistic. I kept waiting for the movie to make sense, for things to finally come together in the end, for the main characters to do something that would finally make me appreciate them. Well, not only did nothing still make sense by the end, but talking with people who read the books, that kind of "not making sense" was precisely the point of the movie and the books. So, unless those people were mistaken and the movie is way off from the original spirit of the books, I'm really surprised you guys liked them, because I've enjoyed and respected your posts in the past.

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I thought the first book was ok. I didn't really get it though. Some of my friends laugh hysterically when they read it, but I didn't find it THAT funny. It was decent, and interesting read, but nothing too profound. I'm not really one to like literature of the absurd. I did like the fact that the President of the Universe's job was to distract people from power. If I had to describe the book in one word, it would be: RANDOM. The book doesn't make sense. It is supposed to be satire to an extreme level. So much so that pretty much everything else is abandoned. I don't know, it just seemed like Adams was trying to make fun of as many people as he could in the shortest way possible. In any case though, the book is good for some laughs, so I gave it a 7.

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This is the book for Monty Python lovers, if you ask me. I loved the movie also, but I'm a little crazy so......................

Capitalist, the movie is terrible innacurate, I don't see where you got that. It takes bits and pieces out of the several books and puts them all together, in order(very infuriating). It added some extra schemes and plots that were not in the books. I would suggest the books, because, as much as I hate to say, they make a little more sense(just a little, mind you). If any of you have read the Lemony Snicket books(A Series of Unfortunate Events) and liked the sarcastic, out-of-place type of humor, you would like the Hitchhiker books also. As to the characters-they are much more important and, appreciative. Especially from Mr. Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian. You have to love Marvin, like the rest of it or no.

Not for the faint of heart. Although this is terrible inaccurate(which is the point), I have this to say for the books-Only the most brilliant of minds can survive through stupidity like this(and enjoy it).

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...but despite a few occasional chuckles, the story and the mindset of the Hitchhiker movie universe is so dis-integrated, so joyously incomprehensible, that I'm tempted to call it nihilistic.

...not only did nothing still make sense by the end, but talking with people who read the books, that kind of "not making sense" was precisely the point of the movie and the books.

...I'm really surprised you guys liked them, because I've enjoyed and respected your posts in the past.

This is the book for Monty Python lovers, if you ask me...

First, I want to stress that I regard Adams' work not to be Serious Literature; it's light-hearted "pythonesque-goofy-fun". Next, I have no idea how other people relate to, or understand Adams, I don't really even know how the man himself regarded his work or "approach". It is even possible that he was a nilhilistic cynic.

The main value I get from reading his work is his manner/method of humor in satirizing. It is true that he just tears down, makes fun of & exposes irrationality in many forms. He never does offer any alternative, or solution. But his loopy, off-kilter, British-humor manner of skewering modern philosophy, religion, environmentalism (even though he supposedly belonged to some "save the rhino" thing) was brilliant.

Sometimes I go back to re-read certain sections because they are cathartic. I think it's safe to assume anyone on this forum (or any Ayn Rand fan) is familiar with experiencing a situation or person/personality in real life that is almost a caricature of an event or character in one of her novels. As if Ayn Rand "saw this moment many moments ago" & now you are actually living it. I have experienced the same type of thing with Adams (& to some degree with all authors I enjoy).

Warning: There are spoilers about this book below.

There is a scene in HHGG in which some scientists build a super computer in order to figure out the "meaning of life". Right before they turn it on, these Academic Philosophers break in to the office. They demand that it never be used, because it might actually come up with an answer, leaving them out of job. The scene is a microcosm/example of what I enjoy about Adams. The whole thing is really well done. I'll limit myself to one quote; one of the complaining philosophers says, "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt & uncertainty!"

End spoilers.

As far as the movie...I think it would be very difficult (without massive, distracting narrative voice overs) to accurately represent the books. Part of the charm, for me, of his style are those long sidebar-type essays. He just stops the action for a while, sometimes with a short, but complete, chapter unto itself. He'll go on in a hysterically funny essay-type manner about something somewhat related to what he interupted. Then he'll go back into the story line.

Again, it's more of a "light snack" to satisfy my quirky sense of humor. Contrasted against Rand or Hugo, which is more like a "10-course grand cuisine meal" to satisfy my mind & re-fuel my soul. Beethoven is my absolute favorite, but, if I'm just riding to the grocery store I might put in some old Van Halen or Frank Zappa for a fun 10 minute drive.

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Van Halen? Don't you mean Van Hagar? I guess that's what you meant by old Van Halen.

I concur with Christopher.

I must tell you one more thing. It is a spoiler, so beware. "42". Sorry for that spoiler.

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I finished the books! All however many of them are. 6 I believe(If you count "Young Zaphod Plays it Safe" as a book). Most terrible, depressing conclusion, but the rest was great! I think that "Mostly Harmless" or "The Restaraunt at the End of the Universe" were the best. The first and So Long and Thanks for All the Fish were decent.

I just want to know what happens to Zaphod! He left that out utterly and entirely.

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I just want to know what happens to Zaphod!  He left that out utterly and entirely.

The short answer is that nothing happens to him.

It is somewhat of a strain to follow a plot line in his stories, it's more like a piecewise function. I think what Adams did was create a few favourite characters and then use them to make fun of every/any irrationality he could find. He liked tossing his characters into lots of different situations, but the connections between the situations are vague at best. Also note that he rewrote the story line so many times (between the radio show, tv mini-series, and various editions of the book) that he even confused himself sometimes. So when you say "what happens..." HHGG starts to break down and (as Adams would say) sulks off into a corner to have a good cry. It's best to think of it in an episodic format, which is one reason it doesn't translate well to the screen (this is the second try). That, and the narrative interludes that Christopher Schlegel mentioned.

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I read this for the first time a couple of months ago in the 5 in 1 volume edition. If the entire thing was a third as short as it is, it would be a fun, fast, carefree read. And I really enjoyed the first book and a half. But after 150+ pages of wacky turns and twists (none of them following any real plot-line) I was bored to tears. It was like following some crazy kid into the forest. You think there is a reason, a purpose, for the whole thing, but after he randomly pees behind the tenth tree and dives naked into the lake you walk away not caring if he resurfaces.

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First 3 books of the trilogy were outstanding -- an exercise in stunning creativity. Book 4 was a solid step down. Book 5 a significant drop-off from 4.

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